SpaceX’s test rocket catches fire after engine test


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The second fireball | Image: LabPadre in cooperation with BocaChicaMaria1

A prototype version of SpaceX’s next-generation rocket caught fire last night following an engine test in Boca Chica, Texas. About four minutes after SpaceX briefly ignited the vehicle’s engine, a second small explosion engulfed the rocket in flames for a few seconds — seemingly by accident. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the incident may postpone the first big flight of the vehicle.

The hardware that caught on fire is the test model of SpaceX’s next big rocket, the Starship: a massive spacecraft the company is developing to take people and cargo into deep space. SpaceX is building multiple versions of the rocket at the company’s test facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Boca Chica. These vehicles are meant to try out the…

Continue reading…

SpaceX finally reveals cause of April spacecraft explosion


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




SpaceX says it has figured out what caused one of its spacecraft to explode during a ground test in April. A valve accidentally leaked some of the vehicle’s propellant, starting a chain reaction that caused the spacecraft to burst apart. Now that the cause has been identified, SpaceX says it is replacing these parts in all future versions of the vehicle to make sure this explosive leak doesn’t happen again.

The spacecraft that SpaceX lost was a test version of the company’s Crew Dragon, a capsule that’s being built for NASA to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This particular capsule was the very first Crew Dragon that SpaceX had ever launched into space. In March, the vehicle — without a crew — successfully…

Continue reading…

SpaceX finally reveals cause of April spacecraft explosion


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




SpaceX says it has figured out what caused one of its spacecraft to explode during a ground test in April. A valve accidentally leaked some of the vehicle’s propellant, starting a chain reaction that caused the spacecraft to burst apart. Now that the cause has been identified, SpaceX says it is replacing these parts in all future versions of the vehicle to make sure this explosive leak doesn’t happen again.

The spacecraft that SpaceX lost was a test version of the company’s Crew Dragon, a capsule that’s being built for NASA to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This particular capsule was the very first Crew Dragon that SpaceX had ever launched into space. In March, the vehicle — without a crew — successfully…

Continue reading…

NASA administrator on recent personnel shakeup: ‘There’s no turmoil at all’


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




It’s been a week of major change for NASA after the top two leaders of the agency’s human exploration program were suddenly reassigned without much warning. It was a shocking personnel shakeup, coming just months after NASA was challenged to send humans back to the Moon by 2024. It’s led many to suspect that NASA’s Moon initiative may not be running all that smoothly — or that the White House has gotten involved.

The Verge spoke with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to better understand why these changes were made and what this means for the future of NASA’s lunar initiative, dubbed Artemis. Bridenstine explained that the Artemis program is still very much intact, but in the months to come, we will be seeing more of an emphasis on how…

Continue reading…

Japanese spacecraft grabs second asteroid sample near blasted crater


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




An artistic rendering of the Hayabusa2 satellite

A Japanese spacecraft has snagged a sample of dust from an asteroid zooming through space more than 151 million miles from Earth. It’s the second sample that this vehicle has grabbed from the asteroid, and it’s also the last one the probe will collect before heading back to Earth this fall.

The sample-gathering spacecraft is Hayabusa2, which is operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Launched in 2014, the vehicle has been hovering around an asteroid named Ryugu since arriving at the object in June 2018. Its main goal is to grab small bits of rocks and dirt off of Ryugu to return to our planet where scientists can study these pieces in labs. Hayabusa2 could have easily been done when it grabbed its first sample in…

Continue reading…

Head of NASA’s human exploration program demoted as agency pushes for Moon return


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The head of NASA’s human exploration program has been replaced within the agency, just months after Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to send humans to the Moon within the next five years. The move is the latest in a couple of high-profile executive changes NASA has made in recent months as the agency strives to return humans to the lunar surface.

“As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote to employees in a memo obtained by The Verge. “In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO)…

Continue reading…

Virgin Orbit’s giant plane drops rocket over California during crucial flight test


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




This morning, Virgin Orbit — the spinoff company of Richard Branson’s space tourism venture Virgin Galactic — dropped a small test rocket from an airplane over Southern California where it slammed into the ground. The rocket’s plunge to the earth was part of a major flight test for Virgin Orbit that will pave the way for the company’s first launch to space later this summer.

This morning’s event was known as a drop test, and it was meant to see if Virgin Orbit’s fledgling rocket system behaved as expected. For the last four and a half years, Virgin Orbit has been developing a new small rocket called LauncherOne, which is designed to put satellites the size of washing machines into low orbits around Earth. But unlike most other commercial…

Continue reading…

Israel’s failed lunar lander will live on in the design of Firefly Aerospace’s new Moon spacecraft


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




<em>An artistic rendering of Firefly’s Genesis lander</em>

Israel’s first lunar lander crashed into the Moon’s surface in April, but the design of the doomed spacecraft may live on during future missions to the Moon. US company Firefly Aerospace announced that it is partnering with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to create a new lunar vehicle based on the crashed spacecraft’s blueprints. Firefly says this lander will build upon “lessons learned” from the accident to ensure that the new lander does not meet the same fate.

The lander that IAI built was called Beresheet, and if it had been successful, it would have been the first privately funded vehicle to touch down on the surface of the Moon. While Beresheet launched successfully and made it into lunar orbit, its landing was botched when the…

Continue reading…

How to watch today’s total solar eclipse if you’re not in a small portion of South America


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




This afternoon, another total solar eclipse will grace the skies over the Earth, but this time, most of the show will take place over the Pacific Ocean. Unlike the Great American Eclipse of 2017, which cut through the heart of the United States, this one will only be visible for a short stretch over the bottom of South America. Don’t fret: there are plenty of live streams that will provide coverage of the eclipse online for those who want their astronomical fix.

Solar eclipses occur on average every 18 months or so, whenever the Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth on its orbit around our planet. When this lucky alignment occurs, the Moon casts its shadow on select portions of the Earth. This region of darkness is known as the…

Continue reading…

NASA is testing how its new deep-space crew capsule handles a rocket emergency


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Tomorrow morning, NASA will test its new deep-space crew capsule to see if the vehicle can keep people safe during a botched launch. The agency will activate a special emergency system on the capsule designed to carry the vehicle away from a malfunctioning rocket, to safety. If all goes well, it’ll show that the capsule is ready for flight and pave the way for its first mission to space within the next couple of years.

The crew capsule enduring tomorrow’s test is NASA’s Orion, a key spacecraft the agency has been developing to send crews of four into deep space. Orion is designed to launch on top of a rocket NASA has also been developing called the Space Launch System, or SLS. Together, the spacecraft are meant to transport people to the…

Continue reading…

SpaceX is in communication with all but three of 60 Starlink satellites one month after launch


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




<em>The 60 Starlink satellites before they were deployed into orbit</em>

It’s been over a month since SpaceX launched its first batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites for the company’s massive Starlink initiative, and all but three of the satellites seem to be working as intended. Initially, SpaceX was able to communicate with all 60 spacecraft after launch, but eventually lost communication with three outliers. The uncommunicative trio will continue to orbit the Earth for a time, but will eventually get pulled down toward our planet by gravity, where they will burn up in the atmosphere.

The rest of the 57 satellites have been working as intended, according to the company. Forty-five of the satellites have raised their altitudes with their onboard thrusters and have reached their final intended orbits of 342…

Continue reading…

SpaceX catches rocket nosecone for the first time with giant net-wielding boat


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




<em>One half of the Falcon Heavy’s nosecone, or fairing, in Ms. Tree’s net</em>

After launching its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket this evening, SpaceX caught part of the vehicle’s nosecone when it fell back to Earth — the first time the company has ever pulled off such a feat. The structure broke away from the rocket in space and parachuted back to the surface, where it then landed on a SpaceX boat outfitted with a giant net.

The successful stunt comes after a year and a half of trying and failing to catch a nosecone after launch. But now that one has been recovered, it’s possible that SpaceX may use the structure again on an upcoming flight instead of building a new one from scratch.

The rocket’s nosecone, or fairing, is the bulbous structure that encases the payload during launch. It protects the onboard…

Continue reading…

Why the third launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket has the highest stakes yet


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The third flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is set for this evening, and this launch is perhaps the most important one yet for the powerful rocket. The Falcon Heavy will be flying a mission for the Air Force known as STP-2 that’s ultimately meant to certify the vehicle as capable of launching future national security missions. If all goes well, the launch could help solidify the Falcon Heavy as a dependable rocket for the Department of Defense and potentially position SpaceX as a go-to launch provider for the military for most of the next decade.

To evaluate the prowess of the rocket, the Air Force has tasked the Falcon Heavy with launching 24 satellites into space at once. The various spacecraft — hailing from NASA, the Air Force, the…

Continue reading…

An atomic clock, ‘green’ propellant, and a sunlight-surfing sail are headed to space next week


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




On Monday, SpaceX is set to launch the third flight of its most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. And this time, it’s carrying a host of new technologies into space, ranging from a new type of atomic clock to a thin sail that moves on sunlight. If they can survive the harsh environment of Earth’s orbit, then these new technologies could evolve into valuable tools for future space missions.

A combination of 24 satellites will fly to space on this mission, assembled from the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and universities. Getting all of these satellites to their intended orbits won’t be easy. The…

Continue reading…

Blue Origin fires up the engine of its future Moon lander for the first time


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For the first time, aerospace company Blue Origin has fired up a brand-new engine the company developed for its future Moon lander. The engine, dubbed the BE-7, ignited for a full 35 seconds during a test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. It’s a big step for the company as it prepares to build its lander, named Blue Moon, and eventually send it to the lunar surface.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos tweeted out a video of the test last night. The recording shows flames coming from the engine horizontally, first appearing bright green and then turning clear for the rest of the test. The green flames can be attributed to the fluid that the BE-7 uses to start the ignition of the engine. Once that fluid burns away, the flames become clear…

Continue reading…

NASA’s future Moon rocket will probably be delayed and over budget yet again: audit


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




An artistic rendering of the Space Launch System

The giant rocket that NASA is building to send astronauts to the Moon will likely be delayed and over budget — yet again. That’s according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed the hardware NASA has been developing for deep space human exploration. The report, originally leaked to The Washington Post, is the latest in a long string of reviews that have identified schedule problems and cost overruns with the rocket’s development program.

For most of the last decade, NASA has been developing two key vehicles to carry humans beyond Earth orbit. One is the Space Launch System, or SLS, a massive rocket capable of sending people to the vicinity of the lunar surface. The other is a crew capsule called Orion,…

Continue reading…

NASA spacecraft snaps detailed asteroid picture from closest orbit yet


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




<em>A picture of asteroid Bennu, taken by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from .4 miles away</em>

NASA’s asteroid-sampling spacecraft OSIRIS-REx just snapped its closest picture yet of Bennu, the deep-space rock it’s been hovering around since the end of last year. The high-resolution image highlights the object’s very rocky surface and even showcases a very large boulder on its southern half.

OSIRIS-REx took this up-close picture on June 13th, right after the spacecraft inserted itself into orbit around Bennu for the second time. The vehicle first got into Bennu’s orbit on December 31st, 2018, flying about a mile away from the asteroid’s surface. From that path, OSIRIS-REx mapped Bennu’s surface in intricate detail, and also observed some interesting things from this vantage point, including rocks spewing from Bennu’s surface.

Continue reading…

NASA administrator says it will cost an extra $20 to $30 billion to send astronauts back to the Moon


This post is by Loren Grush from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine has finally revealed the total cost estimate for the space agency’s plan to put astronauts back on the Moon: $20 to 30 billion. That’s the extra money that NASA will need on top of the agency’s average annual budget to pull off this ambitious program, Bridenstine told CNN in an interview.

“It would be $20 to $30 billion on top of the normal NASA budget, but of course that would be spread over five years,” Bridenstine said in the interview.

This is the first time that anyone at NASA has revealed the full cost for the plan to put people on the lunar surface again — a program the agency has recently dubbed Artemis. NASA is aiming to put a crew on the Moon by 2024, after being challenged by Vice…

Continue reading…